Friday, February 28, 2014

Chapter 12 - Holy Spirit

Marcey and Noah were talking a while back and Noah mentioned he wanted to be baptised.  She discussed it with him for a while and then later told me about it.  Last night, I had the opportunity to really talk to him about it and what it means to be baptised.  I asked him why he wanted to, and he said that it was a way for him to show other people that he had the Holy Spirit in him. 

For those of you who don't know.  Noah is 8.  I don't know that I really understood what that meant when I was his age, but he really gets it. In fact, I think sometimes he gets it more than I do. 

The rest of the converstaion was a very thought provoking experience for me.  Through the course of discussion, he told me he knew he had the Holy Spirit in him, because one night he couldn't help but read the Bible.  He knew he had to.

I hear people speak about the Holy Spirit, but rarely do I hear them speak as if their will is no long a part of their life.  I know Noah still makes decisions for himself and will make mistakes, but for Him to feel that he had to read the Bible because the Holy Spirit was telling him to profound to me. 

I couldn't help, but finish our discussion with letting him know about how Jesus loves little kids and calls us all to have a child like faith.  I had to explain to him, just like this experience, there are times when God will use children to teach adults.  There is something about children who really "get" it, that make me question my commitment and my faith and how it fleshes itself out in my life.

When was the last time that you couldn't help but read the Bible?  Are we that willing to follow the Holy Spirit's leading?  Are we willing to have faith like a child and move beyond our experiences and preconcieved ideas?  Are we willing to follow?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

First sign of grace

There are many ways to read the Bible.  Some have tried to start at the front, while others start with the gospels, and yet still others just pick a random place to start.  Some friends of ours were talking last night about how they have started to read the Bible, chronologically.  I've never done that before, so I thought it would be interesting just to see how everything played out if you read it like that.  It's amazing what you can get from the same passage when you look at it from another angle.  (Change in View)

Anyway, so I began with the ever so popular first three chapters of Genesis.  Most of us have either read it or heard the story so many times.  It starts off with creation and ends with God sending out Adam and Eve after they have been disobedient. 

What I saw this time, was something different than what I have ever seen before.  From my earliest memories, I only remember people speaking of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  I have heard about the Tree of Life, but for as long as I can remember it was always either skimmed over or grouped into the same tree as the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

As I read over it and raelized they were actually two seperate trees, one that represents life and one that represents death, it began to change their story for me a little bit.

Could it be that when God sent Adam and Eve away from the garden, that it wasn't necissarily to punish them, (albeit they were cursed) but rather to extend them grace?

I know it sounds a little odd to think of a "punishment" as showing grace, but if you consider the fact if they had stayed in the garden and continued to eat of the tree of life their physical bodies would never die.  If their physical bodies didn't die, they would have had to continually deal with sin.  God gave them grace in allowing them to physically die, so that they could be reunited with Him once again.

I know the thought seems so simple, but it is so easy to overlook.  I wonder how many places in the Old Testament that we see God as being a harsh, brutal, vengful God when rather He is either allowing us to have what we have asked for or He is showing us grace in a way that seems wrong to us.

Once you understand this idea, you can consider what areas of life God might have been showing us grace, but we see it only as a punishment.  We almost never know all of the facts surrounding our circumstances.  Sometimes, our "punishment" could really be God showing us grace and keeping us from what could be.

Monday, February 3, 2014


Grace:  Definition from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary
a :  unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification
b :  a virtue coming from God
c :  a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace 
I've been doing a great deal of thinking about grace recently.  So many people in the church use the phrase "give them grace,"  "God's grace," or something else similar.   If you don't hear these sorts of phrases in your church then you probably hear more about what you should be doing and what you shouldn't be doing.  

As I think about many of the churches I have attended over the years, most of them fall into one of those two categories.  Very few fall in the middle.  They may preach one or the other or preach something in the middle, but the overall attitude is either "give them grace and let them be" or "You better quit doing that or you're going to hell."

The more I thought about it the more I realize I have thought on this subject many times before, but under a different light.  Before, I was coming at it from a judgement standpoint and how I believe we should judge one another.  If you are reading this and haven't read my others posts, just hear me out before leaving.

I believe God gives us grace.  He would have to, if there was any hope for us.  I think we should extend that grace to other people.  If for no other reason than out of the gratitude for what Christ has done for us.  However, I also believe that we have our own personal responsibility to how we handle the grace we have been given.  

As Paul put it in Romans 6:1-4, "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life."
I find it interesting, that this verse represents the same basic discussion.  It speaks of a balance of grace vs our own personal responsibility to "walk in the newness of life."  
I have a hard time when it comes to people trying to outline what is a sin.  I believe, as one friend put it, that anything that gets between you and God is a sin.  Anything that becomes your God is a sin.  It's pretty plain and simple.  It's not always easy to overcome, but that is because we choose not to.
I also have a hard time with people just teaching grace.  Not just grace, but a grace that allows people to continue to live their lives without regard to what God thinks and a grace that doesn't ask us to change and work towards getting to be more like Christ.  We will never be perfect, we can't be, but that is where grace comes in.  
I believe God wants us to want to be like Christ, to strive to be like Christ, to learn to be like Christ.  When we stumble, and we will, that is when grace comes into play.  He knows we have an inward battle.   The goal is win the war, which he won for us.  However, we can't win the war if we aren't fighting the battle.  
Extend others grace because God has extended grace to us.  Keep others accountable, because God keeps us accountable. Love others, because God loves us.